On Tuesday morning, Megyn Kelly—a woman who once declared that Santa Claus and Jesus can only be white—took on the topic of wearing blackface on Halloween on her morning show, Megyn Kelly Today.
The discussion took place during a round table segment featuring Jenna Bush Hager, Melissa Rivers, MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff, and zero people of color. Kelly initially took issue with a British university’s decision to ban certain costumes that are perceived to threaten others’ right to a “safe space.” Said list included things like Nazis, ISIS bombers, priests, nuns, cowboys, Native Americans, and Harvey Weinstein.
“What is racist?” Kelly asked. That’s where things took a turn toward problematic. “You do get in trouble if you’re a white person who puts on blackface for Halloween or a black person who puts on whiteface for Halloween,” she continued. “Back when I was a kid that was okay as long as you were dressing up as, like, a character.”
“If you think something is offensive, it probably is,” Rivers counters and then goes on to lament society’s lack of manners and politeness. Kelly responds, “But on Halloween…you’ve got guys running around with fake axes coming out of their heads. It’s gonna be jarring.”
She then doubles down by defending Real Housewives of New York‘s Luanne de Lesseps’ terrible decision to darken her skin while dressing as Diana Ross for a costume party last season. Kelly questions how that was construed as racist when de Lesseps “just wanted to look like Diana Ross for one day.” Soboroff says he hasn’t seen the episode but that it “sounds a little racist to me.”
“I can’t keep up with the number of people we’re offending just by being normal people,” Kelly concludes.
No. No, Megyn Kelly, dressing up like a character out of a slasher film is not anywhere close to the same thing as painting your face to look like a different race—even if it’s a fictional character. Normal people are, for the most part, correct in finding it deeply offensive. And there is never a situation, like admiring a famous black person, where wearing blackface is even close to appropriate. NEVER. It’s maddening and, yet, sadly unsurprising that this concept is so difficult for some white people to understand.
Naturally, Twitter users had some additional thoughts on Kelly’s controversial statements.
NBC and Kelly have yet to respond to the backlash.